Skip to main content
School News

Whitmore Center Names 2023 Eccles Scholars

The Whitmore Global Business Center (GBC) at the BYU Marriott School of Business named 13 first-year BYU Marriott MBA students as 2023 Eccles Scholars. The Eccles Scholars Award offers financial support to MBA students who are interested in and committed to international business.

Students undergo a rigorous application process and are selected based on academic performance, international experience or interest, and second language fluency. Each award recipient receives up to $9,000 of financial aid to go toward tuition, international study experiences, and global career exploration.

The 2023 Eccles Scholars are Benjamin Dowdy, Christina Zhang, Coralee Choules, Laura Kerey, Fabian Serradell, Preston Neilson, Zach Andersen, Tanner Mask, Jared Dyer, Ben Nzojibwami, Kirsi Jarvis, Kelsee Gates, and Gretel Tam.

Winners of the 2023 Eccles Award standing in the N. Eldon Tanner Building
From left, Preston Neilson, Benjamin Dowdy, Christina Zhang, Tanner Mask, Gretel Tam, Kirsi Jarvis, Coralee Choules, Jared Dyer, Kelsee Gates, Ben Nzojibwami, Laura Kerey, and Fabian Serradell. Not pictured: Zach Andersen.
Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Because of the generous support of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, “The award enables MBA students to expand on the global trajectory of their future careers,” GBC business manager Lisbeth Hopper says. “These students are already fluent in a second language and have demonstrated their global and international interests in their coursework and in other leadership positions.”

About the 2023 Eccles Scholars
Benjamin Dowdy served a church mission in Japan, where he experienced the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan. In the aftermath of the natural disaster, Dowdy used his Japanese and English proficiency to help coordinate relief efforts. “I learned the critical role of people with knowledge of cultures and languages in facilitating solutions for complex problems,” Dowdy says. From Madison, Wisconsin, he returned to Japan twice to complete undergraduate internships, and he graduated with honors from BYU with a bachelor's degree in Japanese. After completing his studies, Dowdy spent several years with Epic, a company that develops health records software. He consulted organizations throughout the world, including Canada, Singapore, Australia, and the United Kingdom. He hopes to transition to brand management through his MBA experience, eventually looking to consult Japanese companies trying to expand into Western markets.

Christina Zhang grew up in China, where she published her first novel at the age of 14. She came to the United States to attend the College of Saint Benedict, earning a bachelor’s degree in communications in 2013 while also working as an intern with 21 Century News. Zhang built on her experience by earning a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Minnesota. Zhang then made a career shift in 2018, transitioning to hedge fund management and eventually private equity. After earning an MBA from BYU Marriott, she plans to use her expertise in journalism and finance to promote a healthy market and media landscape. “I am committed to promoting international business in China and Southeast Asia,” Zhang says.

Coralee Choules developed an interest in global affairs as a young child when her family lived in Taiwan and the Philippines. Choules attended international schools around the world, interacting with diverse cultures, countries, and people. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from BYU in 2008 and a doctor of audiology from the University of Washington in 2012. Choules then worked as a clinical audiologist for more than a decade in various positions throughout California, Arizona, and Utah. In one position, which she held for five years, she relied greatly on her language skills. “I was able to work with patients and colleagues from around the world and seldom spoke my primary language on the job,” Choules says. She now plans to use her experience in Asia to pivot to international business.

Laura Kerey was born and raised in a small town in western Mongolia, and she aspired to one day attend school in the United States. Kerey earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in economics from Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation in Moscow, Russia, where she won several outstanding student and case study awards. After graduation, Kerey worked as a product development and planning specialist at a major Mongolian telecommunications company before transitioning to work in accounting and auditing with PwC offices throughout central Asia. Kerey is also fluent in five languages: Mongolian, Kazakh, Russian, Turkish, and English. Upon completion of the MBA program at BYU Marriott, she plans to use her international experience and language skills to advance consulting practices in Kazakhstan and central Asia. She will complete an internship with JPMorgan Chase & Co. this summer.

Fabian Serradell grew up in Chile, where his parents encouraged him to learn English to open future opportunities. That advice paid off as Serradell has utilized his English skills working and traveling internationally. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Universidad de Chile in 2013 and then worked for several years with major South American energy companies. As a bilingual engineer, Serradell was given opportunities to manage partnerships and projects around the globe. “Being fluent in a second language has opened the door to do business with teams in Europe and South America,” Serradell says. “It has allowed me to travel to amazing places, creating lasting connections with people from completely different cultures and backgrounds.”

Preston Neilson gained international experience first through a church mission to Mexico and later through a study abroad in Spain. Originally from Houston, Neilson graduated from BYU Marriott in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in finance and a minor in Spanish. Following graduation, Neilson worked as a credit analyst with GPS Capital Markets, a multinational foreign exchange brokerage firm. “I hope to leverage my training to eventually become a treasury manager,” Neilson says. After completing his MBA, Neilson plans to pursue a career in international business, and he’ll work as a finance intern for multinational conglomerate 3M this summer.

Zach Andersen has coordinated international manufacturing projects from Asia to Latin America, using his Spanish language skills to create personal connections in the process. From Apple Valley, California, Andersen earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from BYU Marriott in 2018 before going on to work with Techtronic Industries as a marketing specialist and later as a product manager. “Whether traveling around the world or simply doing video calls, conducting global business drives greater understanding and connection among us as humans,” Andersen says. Following completion of the BYU Marriott MBA program, he plans to seek work in a foreign country or with a multinational business.

Tanner Mask served a church mission in Lima, Peru, where he learned Spanish and fell in love with a new culture. Originally from Gilbert, Arizona, Mask returned from his mission with a determination to work with people in South America, and he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from BYU Marriott in 2020. Mask then worked as an investor with Alta Global Ventures, a global venture capital fund that invests in companies in North America and South America. He later cofounded an investment firm that focuses on startups and real estate. Mask chose to earn an MBA to learn about international investing, and he hopes to use that knowledge to invest across borders.

Jared Dyer lived in Europe and Asia for a total of 12 years growing up, learning Japanese, Serbian, and German in the process. “The experience gained in those years abroad strengthened my ability to thrive in ambiguous environments,” Dyer says. “I saw firsthand the value in connecting with people of different backgrounds and cultures.” Dyer, originally from Cheney, Washington, earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and political science from BYU before accepting a position as an analyst with mattress retailer Purple. He hopes to work for a multinational corporation where he can capitalize on his international experience, language skills, and business expertise.

Ben Nzojibwami was born in the east African country of Burundi. Due to social change and civil unrest, he and his family fled to Belgium, where they tried to start a new life but were met with severe discrimination. Ultimately, Nzojibwami’s family immigrated to Canada, finding a new sense of security in the process. “These experiences, along with others, have shaped one of my core values: the need for safety,” Nzojibwami says. “The Eccles award is an opportunity for me to create safety and social connection throughout the world.” Nzojibwami completed an exchange program with Beijing Normal University in China in 2015. He earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Calgary in 2016 and a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Alberta in 2019. He speaks French, Mandarin, and English, and he worked previously as a French teacher and an instructional designer.

Kirsi Jarvis felt terrified when she stepped into her first Chinese class at 12 years old. That fear left when she realized language learning was about more than grammar. “I soon learned pursuing Chinese was not a means to merely speaking a language,” Jarvis says. “It was a means to connect with a people.” Originally from Kaysville, Utah, Jarvis further developed her love of Chinese people and culture as she served a church mission in Taiwan and completed a study abroad in Nanjing, China. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies from BYU in 2015 and a master’s degree in public administration from BYU Marriott in 2019. Jarvis worked with several immigrant and refugee support organizations in both Washington, DC, and Utah, most recently as a career manager with One Refugee. She plans to use her experience and educational background to earn a PhD in management and research, seeking to eventually teach in China.

Kelsee Gates took a Russian class on a whim in college, and she soon fell in love with the language. From Erda, Utah, she later taught English in western Russia and served a church mission in eastern Europe. “I know the power of connecting companies and cultures in business,” Gates says. “I want to increase my understanding of international business to be a powerful force for good in the world.” Gates earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from BYU-Idaho and began work at Deseret Digital Media. She later worked for advertising agency Boncom and digital media company Radiant in various capacities. “I am eager to take my next steps in my education,” Gates says.

Gretel Tam had attended six different schools, learned a third language, and lived in two countries by the time she was seven years old. Gretel spent time in Hong Kong and mainland China as a child and is fluent in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. “I became interested in exploring international career paths after settling in the United States,” Tam says. “A global mindset and international exposure are essential for success in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape.” Tam participated in study abroad programs to the middle East and Europe while earning a bachelor’s degree in dietetics from BYU in 2020. After graduation, Tam worked for Latter-day Saint Charities, where she collaborated on clean water and nutrition projects in the Philippines, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. She will soon join multinational food corporation Danone as a brand management intern.

About BYU Marriott
The BYU Marriott School of Business aspires to transform the world through Christlike leadership by developing leaders of faith, intellect, and character. Named for benefactors J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott, the school is located at Brigham Young University. BYU Marriott has four graduate and nine undergraduate programs with an enrollment of approximately 3,300 students.